Crete and Brews: How Concrete Suits Breweries, Bars, and More

Concrete and beer are a match made in heaven! More specifically, concrete is a good choice for flooring and décor in breweries, pubs, and bars. Concrete offers a combination of durability, serviceability, and aesthetic that makes it especially attractive for breweries, wineries, and all manners of watering holes. 

A hard wearing surface is necessary for a brewery, especially if there’s a taproom or bar on site. A brewery (or winery) is very much an industrial space. With heavy carts full of raw material, forklifts, dropped tools, and all manner of brewing-related work going on, the floor can take a beating. If you factor in a pub, the floor must also contend with high foot traffic, scraping chairs, and moving tables. In most iterations, concrete can readily withstand this kind of abuse.

Where there’s beer (and wine) there are spills. This means there are two more factors to deal with: stains and slipping. If you select the right finishes and treatments, concrete is resistant to staining and slipping. These qualities not only ensure a presentable, clean surface, but also safety. This stain resistance also means concrete is easier to keep clean than many other materials, saving time, effort, and labor.

Aesthetic is key if the establishment is open to the public. People want to be in a place that looks good and evokes certain feelings. Concrete offers a wide variety of decorative options without sacrificing performance. With decorative concrete, you can create a look that ranges from gritty and industrial to clean and contemporary.

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Acid Stains – This is perhaps one of the most common decorative concrete finishes, especially with breweries, wineries, bars, and restaurants. Acid staining permanently changes color through a chemical reaction with the concrete. It will not peal or flake. The classic mottled appearance is easily recognizable and difficult to mimic with other materials. Some applicators can create an acid stain effect with water based stains or concrete dyes, but non-concrete finishes seldom match up. Using multiple colors of stain often produces a bold and distinctive design. A single color, or a couple similar colors, can alternatively make a look that’s more reserved and classic, with organic variations.

Polished Concrete – Polished concrete is extremely popular in industrial and commercial settings due to its durability and cost effectiveness. By utilizing the existing slab most structures are built on, polishing concrete saves cost in materials and is generally more environmentally friendly than alternative flooring options. It also results in a super smooth, hard, and relatively impermeable surface. This makes it ideal for the rigors of brewery life. Furthermore, polished concrete can be readily stained or dyed.

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Stencils & Decorations – Use a stencil in conjunction with a penetrating dye to create crisp, intricate designs. One popular choice is to stencil the brewery’s logo onto the floor in the entryway. It’s a visually impactful way to make the establishment unique. Subtle embellishments such as stripes, small patterns, and labels can be added throughout. For example, a stenciled stripe around the edge of a room could be a simple but welcome touch. Stencils can be custom made (check with a local sign company or print shop) or purchased.

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Counters & Décor – One of the most unique ways to incorporate concrete into a brewery or bar setting is in the countertops, furniture, and décor. Countertops, bar tops, and tabletops are one of the most popular non-structural applications for decorative concrete. Typically using a special lightweight, high tensile strength mix, they can be colored and stained. Different aggregates can be seeded or exposed to create granite-like finishes. Sometimes, designs are event created by imbedding glass, seashells, and other unique materials. Concrete countertops are great because they offer more design flexibility than natural materials while retaining the same degree of durability.

Sealers, Protectants, and Coatings – All of the above-mentioned designs rely on sealers, protectants, or coatings to achieve the full degree of performance. Especially in a food-service or production capacity, a good sealer or coating is vital to concrete’s lasting performance. Selecting the right sealer/coating (check for FDA compliance) is necessary to prevent staining or bacteria collection. Even polished concrete, which benefits from decreased permeability, should be protected using the appropriate protectant. Proper application of an appropriate protectant (potentially with an additive) can also improve traction and reduce slip risk. Use a sacrificial coating to further extend the protection and lifespan of the chosen sealer.

Due to the demands of the environment and popular aesthetic, breweries, brewpubs, wineries, and bars are a good fit for decorative concrete. Stained concrete, polished concrete, and concrete countertops are durable and versatile enough to withstand the rigors of a food service environment without compromising décor and aesthetic.